The jazz trumpeter and singer Chet Baker was born on this day in 1929. Earlier we featured Let’s Get Lost, Bruce Weber’s documentary of the musician’s troubled life. Today we take you back to 1964, when Baker was 34, as he performs a melancholy interpretation of the Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne standard, “Time After Time.”
The scene is from a Belgian television program. Baker is joined by French pianist Rene Urtreger, Belgian flautist Jacques Pelzer, and an Italian rhythm section of Luigi Trussardi on bass and Franco Manzecchi on drums. Baker sings and plays the flugelhorn. The Belgian TV show, along with a performance 15 years later in Norway, are preserved in the Jazz Icons DVD Chet Baker Live in ’64 and ’79. In the liner notes, Rob Bowman writes:
Beauty comes in many forms. In music, it can be the result of a perfectly constructed melodic line, a harmonic voicing that sends shivers down your spine, a groove that somehow captures the joy of being alive, or a timbre so sensuously rich that it makes your body quiver from head to toe. In the case of Chet Baker, a jazzman capable of spinning out some of the most achingly beautiful music human beings have ever known, beauty was a result of finding the poignancy in sorrow, in deploying pitch inflection, melodic arc and a vibratoless timbre to conjure up something of rarefied value in a life of addiction and endless disappointment. There are many virtuosic technicians in the history of jazz. Few of them could capture the pathos of the human condition in the way that Baker did.